Scorers' duel erupts between Jackson, Nolan

Shock Rally Falls Short

The Shock had enough to overcome a miserable first half and the 17-point crater it dug them at halftime Tuesday night. Overcoming Lauren Jackson was another matter.

Jackson, the Storm’s two-time league MVP, scored 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting as Seattle prevailed at The Palace, 79-75. The 36 points were the most surrendered by the Shock to an opponent this season. Jackson also broke her own record for points by a Storm player against Detroit, which set another kind of mark with eight points in the first quarter, the fewest in team history.

“She’s one of the best,” Shock coach Rick Mahorn said of Jackson, who scored a league-record 47 points in an overtime game in 2007. “She was the MVP of this league and we just couldn’t get that first half together to try to give ourselves a chance.”

Jackson’s performance also overshadowed a pretty amazing night from Deanna Nolan, who scored 29 points on 12-of-25 shooting. That’s the most points by a Shock player this season, surpassing Katie Smith’s 28 points against Connecticut July 5.

“She got hot pretty early,” Nolan said of Jackson. “We were very lethargic and very stagnant, no rhythm at all on offense. … In the second half, like you said, fight fire with fire, somebody had to get hot or get going or get rolling and it was me.”

No one got rolling from 3-point range for Detroit, which made just one of 13 attempts, including 1-for-5 by Katie Smith and 0-for-5 by Nolan. That proved critical against Seattle, which actually made three fewer field goals but was 6-of-14 from downtown.

Jackson, a 6-foot-5 center, was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers in the second half, each critical to staving off Detroit’s comeback. With Seattle leading 57-54, Smith missed a 3-pointer and then Jackson struck twice in a 39-second span, extending the lead to 63-57. The Shock eventually tied the game at 67 on three-point play by Taj McWilliams with 3:34 left, but Jackson responded on the ensuing possession with her last 3-pointer.

“It was a little slippage on defense,” Mahorn said. “We had a defensive game plan that if she were to pop out [on the perimeter], we would have somebody on her and have some pressure on her. But you’ve got to give it to [Seattle], they executed well and they went to their horse in Lauren Jackson.”

The Shock tied it one last time on a jumper by Nolan with 1:44 left, a scenario no one would have predicted at halftime when the Storm led, 38-21. The 21 points were a Shock season low for a first half, 10 of which came from Nolan. No other Shock player had more than two points at halftime.

The Shock missed 10 of their first 11 shots but trailed by only six after the first quarter, 14-8. Jackson discovered her offensive touch in the second quarter to put Seattle in command, scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

This was the second straight game the Shock set a franchise record low for points in a quarter. They scored eight points in the third quarter Saturday at Indiana, a turning point in the Fever’s 82-59 rout.

The previous low for first-quarter points was 10 against the Chicago Sky on July 26, 2007. Two current members of the Storm, Swin Cash and Pee Wee Johnson, were on that Shock team, which came one victory shy of the 2007 WNBA championship. Both players each hit a pair of free throws after Nolan’s final jumper to put Seattle ahead for good. Cash tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists in her second game at The Palace as an opponent after a celebrated six-year run as the face of the Shock franchise.

“I think I got some boos at the end on my free throws,” Cash said. “I was like, ‘The boos got louder this year than they were last year,’ so I guess with every single year it’s going to get more and more distant.”

Overall, Cash was once again welcomed warmly by the Shock fans, with whom she celebrated two WNBA championships. “I would expect them to make a run here late in the season,” Cash said of her former team, which fell to 9-14 and is in danger of becoming the second reigning champion to miss the postseason. “I’m glad we’re over and done with them, we’ll see what happens.”

The Shock scored the first 13 points of the third quarter, making 6-of-7 field-goal attempts and holding Seattle scoreless for seven straight possessions. That prompted Storm coach Brian Agler to call timeout with the Storm lead sliced to 38-34.

It was an entertaining contest from there on out, which is no consolation to the Shock. On the contrary, it just made their first-half performance all the more infuriating.

“We have to come out and play as hard as we did, as focused as we did, as into the game as we did, those third and fourth quarters. We come out like that, and play four quarters of basketball like that, we win by 15, 20, easily,” Nolan said. “It’s kind of hard when you dig yourself a hole and you’re fighting, fighting, fighting and just come up short like we did today.”